Corvette Races to Second in Long Beach Street Fight
Magnussen Recovers from Sixth to Take Runner-Up Finish
LONG BEACH, Calif. – Things were looking a little grim for Corvette Racing at the halfway point of the 100-minute American Le Mans at Long Beach, but Jan Magnussen battled back from sixth to a runner-up finish in the No. 3 Compuware Corvette C6.R. Magnussen and teammate Johnny O’Connell threaded their way through the unforgiving concrete barriers that line the Long Beach street circuit to finish four seconds behind the No. 45 Porsche of Pat Long and Joerg Bergmeister. The No. 4 Compuware Corvette of Oliver Gavin and Olivier Beretta was not so fortunate, finishing bruised and battered in ninth at the checkered flag.
“It was a fantastic team effort to finish where we did,” said Magnussen. “With so little time on the race track, to have a race car this good shows just how strong Corvette Racing is.”
The No. 3 Corvette C6.R made its single pit stop for fuel and four Michelin tires under caution at 57 minutes into the race. Needing less than half a tank of E85 ethanol to make it to the finish, the yellow Corvette came into the pits in third place but returned to the track in sixth.
“We had a small problem in the pit stop,” Magnussen explained. “Because it was such a short pit stop, I wasn’t able to get myself ready in the cockpit, so we lost positions in the pit lane. I knew exactly what had happened – I wasn’t upset, I was just motivated to get back to the front. I had a great car and I was able to take back the positions one by one.”
Magnussen gained a spot when the class-leading Ford GT pitted. The two BMWs had gambled on running the race without a tire change, and Magnussen was able to pass the No. 90 BMW going into the Turn 11 hairpin to take third with 11 minutes left in the race. With the four frontrunners running nose-to-tail, Magnussen stalked the No. 92 BMW on the back straight and made the pass stick in Turn 9 with two minutes remaining. He set off in pursuit of the No. 45 Porsche, but ran out of time before the checkered flag.
O’Connell had started the opening stint from third on the GT grid, lost a spot at the start, and then passed the No. 45 Porsche to retake third. He held that position behind the No. 17 Porsche of Wolf Henzler and the pole-winning No. 62 Ferrari of Jaime Melo to the fateful first pit stop.
“It’s hard when you have a street race with different categories sharing the same track,” O’Connell said. “I think we were competitive and as fast as anyone, but traffic would separate the GT cars and then it was difficult to make that back up. You hope for a caution to open an opportunity, and as things worked out, I think we can be proud of a fine result.”
The No. 4 Corvette started fifth, and Olivier Beretta had moved up to fourth by the 30-minute mark, but an encounter with a tire barrier damaged the front bodywork and driver’s door, dropping Beretta to eighth. Gavin took over the No. 4 Corvette at 46 minutes, but had to make two subsequent pit stops for additional repairs.
“There was confusion at the front, and one of the Porsches braked early,” Beretta reported. “I jumped on the brakes, tried to slow down, missed a gear, and lost the car. I was in the wrong place at the wrong moment.”
“A ninth-place finish certainly wasn’t what anybody wanted,” said Gavin. “It seems like the No. 4 Corvette can’t a break at the moment. The car was good, even with the damage we had, but realistically we weren’t going to move up in the finishing order and I just brought it home without risking the car. There were cars spinning off right and left in front of me, and a car even spun into the wall in front of me behind the pace car!”
“It’s great that our sister car got a fantastic finish here and Jan and Johnny have got themselves back in the hunt. So now it’s on to Laguna Seca with the hope that our fortunes will soon turn around.”
Corvette Racing program manager Doug Fehan reflected on the race: “It was an absolutely awesome effort today by the crew and drivers,” he said. “In order to compete with the best, you have to believe you’re the best. Today we raced against the best, and we had a very, very good outcome.”
Corvette Racing’s next event is the American Le Mans Monterey at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca on Saturday, May 22. The six-hour race will start at 2:30 p.m. PT and will be televised by CBS Sports on May 29 at 1:30 p.m. ET.
American Le Mans Series at Long Beach GT Results:
1. Bergmeister/Long, Porsche 911 GT3 RSR, 65
2. O’Connell/Magnussen, Chevrolet Corvette C6.R, 65
3. Auberlen/Milner, BMW E92 M3, 65
4. Melo/Bruni, Ferrari 430 GT, 65
5. Mueller/Hand, BMW E92 M3, 65
6. Sellers/Henzler, Porsche 911 GT3 RSR, 65
7. Sharp/van Overbeek, Ferrari 430 GT, 65
8. Brown/Cosmo, Ferrari 430 GT, 64
9. Gavin/Beretta, Chevrolet Corvette C6.R, 63
10. Robertson/Murry, Ford GT, 62
11. Gentilozzi/Dalziel, Jaguar XKRS, 45
12. Law/Neiman, Porsche 911 GT3 RSR, 28
Release Date: April 17, 2010